Rose wins Blue Monster thriller

Justin Rose claimed the biggest victory of his career on Sunday when he won the WGC Cadillac Championship.

Justin Rose claimed the biggest victory of his career in Miami on Sunday when he won the World Golf Championship’s Cadillac Championship at the Doral Golf Resorts Blue Monster.

The lanky South African-born Englishman picked up his fourth title on the US PGA Tour by firing a closing 2-under 70 for a 16-under total that edged out overnight leader Bubba Watson (74) by a stroke in a final day thriller packed with high drama.

Rory McIlroy, the newly-crowned World No 1, was one of the stand-outs who contributed to the drama, the 22-year-old Northern Irishman closing with a 67 that took him from near no-hoper after the first round to third place, just two shots behind Rose.

He, in turn, was a shot clear of South Africa’s reigning Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (68) and the inform Swede Peter Hanson (71) who finished in a tie for fourth, three off the pace.

Tiger Woods also played his part in the drama, but not in a way he would have liked – and you could say the same about Sergio Garcia, who blew himself out of the water with a 14 on one hole!

Like McIlroy, Woods had come on strong in the second and third rounds after a slow first round, but unlike the Ulsterman, the luckless Woods began to crash and burn early on the final day and had dropped three shots without making a birdie when he limped out of the event on the 11th hole, leaving a strong impression that he won’t be teeing off in next week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational and even, perhaps, next month’s Masters.

Woods was televised driving himself away from Doral just a few minutes after walking off the course, the 36-year-old having told a media official “left leg injury” and no more.

News of his condition will now be anxiously awaited by his supporters, but in the meantime, the first word from the medical team at the course was that his problem was most likely an Achilles heel injury rather than his previously problematic left knee.

The fact that Woods changed into softer shoes at the turn was a strong indication that this might well be the case.

Unlike Tiger, Garcia could not blame what happened to him on the third hole on any physical ailment. He drove into the lake and then dumped three more balls in before eventually finding dry land again.

In stark contrast to this kind of misery, Sunday was a glorious one for Rose, who rocketed back into the World Top 10 after starting the week at No 22 and must now be feeling confident of his Masters chances.

His first prize earnings of £875,000 will also have greatly boosted his chances of reclaiming his place in the US Ryder Cup team after surprisingly being left out by Colin Montgomerie in 2010 despite two victories Stateside that year.

With Watson enjoying home support in Florida, and McIlroy on the charge ahead of him, Rose was always under pressure, but he managed to stay cool and calm when it really mattered.

“I felt very comfortable. I was always kind of checking myself, even on the 18th tee where there was very little nerves. I was like, this is not normal-based upon the past. I guess it is a good sign,” he said.

“There are a lot of tricks and stuff going in. It’s very easy to say I’m going to be relaxed but you’ve got to know your tendencies out there.

“I definitely work on my pace and my rhythm from my swing to the way I walk and everything.”

Watson led by three when he teed off on Sunday and then had a two-putt birdie on the first, but he threw the tournament wide open with a hat-trick of bogeys from the third.

He was in the water there and again off the fifth tee and in the ensuing drama of this see-saw final day, birdies at the first and fourth put Rose in front for the first time in the tournament.

But the Englishman then bogeyed the sixth and suddenly a hovering Keegan Bradley, last year’s PGA winner, was the new favourite when he, in turn, went to the front and established a two-stroke lead after seven holes.

But he was the next victim of the Blue Monster, no longer looking as tame as it had earlier in the week.

Bradley bogeyed the par-five eighth and 10th holes – he four-putted the 10th – then totally fell out of the winners equation, eventually finishing in joint eighth place with a 75 and leaving Rose as the man most likely to catch Watson.

And Rose did just that – with further birdies at the 10th and 14th.

Watson hit back and caught Rose again on this roller coaster day by suddenly finding form with birdies at the 11th and 12th, but he was bunkered on the next and his challenge ended there.

McIlroy teed off almost certainly thinking he faced too much of a deficit.

Yet, after an outward 33, he got up and down from sand for a birdie at the 10th and holed out from the sand for eagle at the 12th and suddenly he was only one behind. A bogey on the 14th for the second day running left him a mountain to climb again and, with his chances fading, he dropped another shot on the last.

It didn’t leave him downcast, though.

“It’s been another good week,” he said. “This is my fifth event of the season and my fifth top five.

“It feels like every time I tee it up I have a chance to win. Now I’m looking forward to taking three weeks off to prepare for The Masters.”

(USA unless stated, par 72)

272 Justin Rose (Eng) 69 64 69 70
273 Bubba Watson 70 62 67 74
274 Rory McIlroy (NIrl)73 69 65 67
275 Peter Hanson (Swe) 70 65 69 71, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 68 69 70 68
276 John Senden (Aus) 76 67 68 65, Luke Donald (Eng) 70 68 69 69
277 Keegan Bradley 69 67 66 75, Steve Stricker 69 70 69 69, Bo Van Pelt 73 65 70 69, Matt Kuchar 72 67 66 72
278 Aaron Baddeley (Aus) 69 74 68 67